Can Democrats Save Obamacare?; Interview with Rep. Jim Himes; Trump Derides Intel Briefing On "So-Called" Russian Hacking; Assange:



Trump Derides Intel Briefing On "So-Called" Russian Hacking; Assange:

Our Source Is Not The Russian Government; Ford Cancels Plans To Build

Plant In Mexico. Aired 7:30-8a ET>


[07:31:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: If there is an attempt to destroy the guarantee of Medicare, harm Medicare, Social Security, or the Affordable Care Act, Democrats will stand our ground.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. That was Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi vowing to fight for Obamacare despite Republican's plan to repeal it. Are Democrats in denial? Let's ask Democratic congressman from Connecticut, Jim Himes. Good morning, Congressman.

REP. JIM HIMES (D), CONNECTICUT: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: So it sounds like, in fairly short order, Republicans are going to be able to repeal Obamacare. Have you all accepted that?

HIMES: By no means have we accepted that. Look, we're going to fight this tooth and nail and, you know, we're not in the strongest legislative position to do so, obviously. But you know what, we've got reality on our side, Alisyn, and the reality lies in the fact that the Republicans have been saying for six years now Obamacare is a disaster and, of course, you know, the American public has always been sort of 50-50 on Obamacare.


HIMES: But when you talk to them about what Obamacare actually is -- when you say what about, you know, your sister's kids who stayed on her health insurance? What about the fact that if you had diabetes or breast cancer, now, no insurance company can turn you away? What about the fact that your state's percentage of uncovered people has gone down by half?


HIMES: People say wow, that is great stuff. And so the Republicans are going to run right smack into the wall of reality that what this bill -- or what this law has done, it's done an awful lot for the American people -- CAMEROTA: So --

HIMES: -- and they're going to take that away.

CAMEROTA: So that's your strategy, is to just have constant messaging now, every day, through the time that Republicans vote on it?

HIMES: We are going to tell the story about how if you repeal the Affordable Care Act you inject chaos into a massive part of our economy that, more importantly, is near and dear to every single American's heart. And yes, we are absolutely going to tell the stories of the millions of people out there who rely on Obamacare for the insurance about all the positive changes that have been made.

And as the senator who you had on earlier, Saxby Chambliss, said, the right thing to do here is for the Republicans to realize that they can't do that. That you cannot throw 20 million Americans off health insurance and expect to be, you know, anything other than thrown out the door. So the right thing to do is for them to say -- and we Democrats acknowledge not everything is perfect about Obamacare. There are changes that should be made to bring costs down --


HIMES: -- to make premiums less expensive. Let's talk about that.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about, now, the alleged Russian hacking of the DNC computers. You are on the Intelligence Committee. Let me read to you what Mr. Trump put out on Twitter last night. He said, "The "intelligence" briefing: -- he puts that in quotation marks --"on so- called "Russian hacking" -- that's also in quotation marks -- "was delayed until Friday, perhaps more time needed to build a case. Very strange!" What's your reaction to that?

HIMES: That was a -- sitting on the Intelligence Committee, Alisyn, and working every day with men and women who put their lives at risk in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan to bring intelligence to the President of the United States, I was just blown away by that.

That single tweet delegitimized the intelligence community of the United States. It showed that he disagrees with the conclusion that the entire intel community has arrived at that the Russians, in fact, hacked the election. And then he said "make the case" as though, you know, people are at CIA headquarters saying we really need to convince these guys, which is not what they do.

The intelligence community tries to call it down the middle, looks at the information and does the best job they can for the president. Look, Alisyn, in combination with his, you know, near weekly praise of Vladimir Putin -- remember the tweet of I knew this man was smart? Here, you have a President of the United States completely slamming his own people -- the $80 billion operation that the American people pay for -- and going out of his way to praise --


HIMES: -- Vladimir Putin. I don't know what to make of it.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, what do you make of the idea that President- elect Trump has not met with the heads of the intelligence agencies since being elected?

[07:35:07] HIMES: Well, remember, as President-elect Trump has told us, he's a very smart man and apparently that substitutes from actually meeting with the people who look at the world and who --

CAMEROTA: But, Congressman -- I mean, I hear you -- I hear your sarcasm there but, really, why does -- I mean, he does get daily or weekly intel briefings. Why does he have to meet with the leaders of those agencies?

HIMES: The reason you need to really focus on this stuff is that there are very few things as complicated, Alisyn, as the dynamics in the Middle East, as the war in Syria, as the effort to retake Mosul, as the need for the intelligence community to protect its own secrets. I'm making reference, of course, to Edward Snowden. I've been working on this stuff for three years. It's some of the most complicated stuff out there.

The President of the United States sits alone in an Oval Office and makes decisions that are life and death, that are about committing our troops, protecting our secrets, and keeping the nation safe, and you cannot do enough in a 24-hour day to learn and command those issues if you're going to take the job seriously. And if you're going to take the job seriously, you're going to do those briefings and you're going to meet with the heads of the intelligence community and you're going to get their best advice. You are not going to slam them and you're not going to deride the work that they do.

CAMEROTA: Congressman, very quickly, I want to talk about the remarkable reversal that we saw from Capitol Hill yesterday about the Office of Congressional Ethics. Republicans had voted on Monday night to gut that overseeing body -- that watchdog agency -- and then they changed course. You tweeted something that I want to ask you about during all of this before they reversed course. You said, "Our protest matters. Speak up. Stay alert." I couldn't tell if that was about the ethics committee or an unattended bag on the subway.

HIMES: It was all of the above.

CAMEROTA: OK. So to what do you attribute their reversal?

HIMES: Well, you know, we're banging our heads against the wall trying to figure out whether it was the massive upwelling of public opinion -- whichI've got to tell you, all 430 to 435 of us heard yesterday with phone calls and emails coming into the office with people saying are you kidding me? You know, as the Republicans look to, as their very first move in the new Congress, gut the ethics watchdog.

But look, it was obviously also -- imagine the Republican majority in the House and the president-elect of your party puts out a tweet saying this is a bad -- now, we need to remember. He didn't say it was a bad idea, he just said the timing was wrong.

The combination of the unbelievable public pressure. You know, the fact that the moment this emerged from the dark of night when the vote was taken, the American people and the media, to give you guys credit, just went bananas on this stuff. In combination with Trump's tweet, they caved. And I mean, boy, what an opening day. First, we're going to get the ethics watchdog and then oops, we didn't really mean that. Not exactly a strong start out of the gate.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Jim Himes, it's going to be a very interesting next few months and years. Thank you very much for being here.

HIMES: Thank you, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. WikiLeaks was behind the DNC emails that were hacked during the election. Julian Assange is behind WikiLeaks, famous for never revealing his sources. So why is he going to such great lengths to say that Russia is not behind the hacked DNC emails, next.


[07:41:40] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN ASSANGE, FOUNDER, WIKILEAKS: We can say, and we have said repeatedly over the last two months, that our source is not the Russian government and it is not the state party.


CUOMO: That's Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, denying again that he received leaked DNC emails from the Russian government. This morning, President-elect Trump is tweeting about it, saying "Julian Assange said a 14-year-old could have hacked Podesta. Why was DNC so careless?" He also said the Russian government is dismissing any involvement in the election hack.

So, let's discuss with Phil Mudd, a CNN counterterrorism analyst and a former CIA counterterrorism official. And, Michael Weiss, a CNN contributor and a senior editor at "The Daily Beast".

Philip Mudd, I can tell by your face you don't like hearing what's coming out of Julian Assange's face. Why?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERRORISM ANALYST: Well look, the question we faced here wasn't asked last night and I can't figure out why it wasn't. The question is pretty straightforward. It's not who gave you the information, it's are you aware of any Russian involvement in the hack, including private parties who might have been paid by the Russian Security Service? I thought the interview was ridiculous because they skirted the bottom line. Do you know if the Russians were involved? Again, not where did you get the information. Ridiculous interview.

CUOMO: Why isn't that contained in his answer of saying I got it from a DNC source or I got it from somebody else, not the Russians?

MUDD: Well, a couple of reasons. I think the primary reason is if the answer is he's aware of Russian involvement, why would he want to say that? That taints his whole operation. I think, in general, what he wants to do is to portray WikiLeaks as unbiased in terms of where it receives information and not a paid party receiving stuff from Russian Security Services, so I think there's an effort to protect WikiLeaks from a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. This guy's -- this guy is not credible.

CUOMO: And that comes to Michael Weiss' concern. You know, there's speculation that Assange was asking for a Russian security detail while in the Ecuadorian embassy and whether or not --

MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That, by the way, came from Ecuadorian journalists who reported that and it so upset the Ecuadorian government they considered it would be tantamount to a foreign invasion of their sovereign territory.

CUOMO: And there was reporting on this side that they shut off Assange's internet access at the Ecuadorian embassy because of the influx of Russian information that he had --


CUOMO: -- coming into his system. What does that tell you?

WEISS: Well, let me just put some of this in perspective, right? For the President-elect of the United States to defer to Julian Assange, an Australian anarchist who has it as his motive to undermine Americaninterests and American national security, who once described informants that the U.S. government was running in Afghanistan, as worthless -- expendable. He didn't care if they were killed. This is "The Guardian" reporting, his former collaborator.

This is an extraordinary state of affairs. I mean, I don't know what's going through Donald Trump's head that he's essentially listening to Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, a man who's been so thoroughly discredited by people from within his own organization, such as James Ball, who said he's megalomaniac, he doesn't care about human rights, he's only in it for himself and he's willing to partner with all kinds of shady characters from anti-Semites to neo-Nazis to whomever -- to the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

[07:45:04] CUOMO: The supporters say, but WikiLeaks has never gotten it wrong. Nobody said that these weren't Podesta's emails.

WEISS: Nobody is denying that this is credible information. I mean, look, I have sources in the Clinton camp who say sotto voce, yes, these emails are legitimate. The question is who got them, who hacked them, and why were they given to WikiLeaks? Now, Julian Assange has elsewhere stated we have a mechanism in place whereby the information we receive is -- we have no -- we have no way of tracing the providence (ph). In other words, we want to protect the sources of our leaks such that we don't even know where it's coming from.

CUOMO: So if that's true --

WEISS: How does he know that Russian state actors were not responsible?

CUOMO: Phil Mudd, what do you make of it?

MUDD: Look, I think there's a simple bottom line here that is the Americans are collecting information about not only what Russian entities are doing, but about what private parties paid for by the Russians are doing. Remember, the sanctions announced by the White House aren't simply Russian security enterprises, they are private individuals who are known hackers.

I think what happened here is WikiLeaks did, as you guys are discussing, receive accurate information and it was from an intermediary paid by the Russians. I don't think this one's very complicated.

CUOMO: And -- then, what do you make of the fact that the president- elect keeps hammering -- did you see his tweet about the intelligence briefing that he was supposed to get?

MUDD: Yes.

CUOMO: He put intelligence in quotes and Russian hacking in quotes which, as we all know is -- you know, is a sarcastic way of dealing with those words. And he said that the meeting was delayed because they needed more time. The intel guys say that's not true. It was always supposed to be at the end of the week. What do you make of that dynamic?

MUDD: Who enters a management relationship dissing the entire workforce before they ever not only meet the workforce, but talk to the leadership of the workforce? If you're running the intelligence community now -- FBI, CIA, and the director of national intelligence -- you've got to walk into wherever they're going -- I assume it's Trump Tower on Friday which is, I think, now when the meeting is scheduled -- to say we can't trust this guy to have a meaningful conversation. He's already decided what the answer is.

We're going to get four years of this on intel related to Iran, Israel, Russia, China, Syria? This is not a good precedent to set when you're dissing the leadership of the intelligence community before you've ever met them.

CUOMO: Phil Mudd, Michael Weiss, thank you very much for the perspective on this, as always. What do you think?

MUDD: Thank you.

CUOMO: Tweet us @NewDay. Post your comment on You can get me and Alisyn there all day long -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: President-elect Trump claiming a victory as Ford announces new jobs in Michigan, not Mexico. Did Donald Trump make them do it? Our exclusive interview with Ford's CEO is next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:51:20] CAMEROTA: A big announcement from the auto giant Ford. The carmaker canceling plans to build a new plant in Mexico. Instead, Ford will invest $700 million in Michigan, creating 700 new jobs in America. President-elect Trump is taking credit, but in an exclusive with CNN's Poppy Harlow, Ford's CEO had a different explanation.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: This is a trend we've seen. The president- elect calls out Carrier. He gets jobs to stay here. He calls out Boeing. He gets a cheaper Air Force One. He calls out Lockheed Martin and they say we're going to work with you. There is a concern among some, Mark, that this is, in essence, a form of crony capitalism that is dangerous to American democracy. That the president can cut deals with companies and then they expect favors from the administration in return.

MARK FIELDS, CEO, FORD: Well, first off, we didn't cut a deal with the president-elect. We did what's right for our business, first and foremost. That's what drives us in every business decision that we make. But we look at a lot of factors, Poppy, and one of the factors that we see is, again, this more positive U.S. environment for manufacturing and investment here, and we take that into account in our investment decisions.


CAMEROTA: Poppy Harlow joins us now, along with CNN chief business correspondent and anchor of "EARLY START" Christine Romans. Ladies, great to see you.

HARLOW: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: So, Poppy, did he feel pressure from Donald Trump? Why did they make this change?

HARLOW: I mean, everything is political in this environment and Trump has chosen the companies he's going to attack. For the better part of a year and one-half he has railed against Ford. I mean, he's even said things that are not based at all on fact. He said at one point that Ford is going to literally fire every single U.S. worker. Not true. He has said that he was to credit for them not moving a Louisville, Kentucky plant to Mexico. That is not true. That plant was never going to move.

However, this is the reality of the environment that they and every company has to work in and it's based on their business, Alisyn. They're not investing $1.6 billion in Mexico in this plant, but they're not putting all that money here either. They're putting $700 million here, so they have a $900 million savings as well.

CAMEROTA: But is this a win-win for Ford where they're like yes, look, we're working with the new administration. HARLOW: I think so. I think it is because small car sales, the cars they were going to make in Mexico, those are way down. The industry is seeing a decline after these record years of sales so they don't need as many small cars made.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And they don't make as much money on them.

HARLOW: And they don't make -- the margin is very small, so I think it is a win-win.

CAMEROTA: And here's the other option. If you don't go along with what President-elect Trump wants, here is what he just tweeted about GM yesterday. "General Motors is sending Mexican made model of Chevy Cruze to U.S. car dealers tax-free across the border. Make in USA or pay big border tax!"

ROMANS: The writing is on the wall. Actually, the writing is in the tweet that Donald Trump wants to disincentivize these companies from producing something overseas and bringing it here. Now, what he's talking about there, he's talking about a Chevy Cruze hatchback. There's only a few thousand of those sold in the United States. The Chevy Cruze sedan is made in --

HARLOW: In Ohio.

ROMANS: -- Lordstown, Ohio and will remain made there as long as demand continues for that -- for that kind of car. But what I think you're seeing here is an auto industry that has the most to lose if Donald Trump guts NAFTA and renegotiates NAFTA as he has said. The auto industry has benefitted greatly from NAFTA, as have agriculture products and a lot of other things. So if you're an American CEO, you're listening to Donald Trump or reading his tweets, and you want to have a seat at the table when he cuts maybe tax reform that could save you billions somewhere else and you throw a bone with 700 jobs. I mean --

CAMEROTA: But that --

ROMANS: It's not a bone, it's real families and real jobs that they will have there. But you're right, there is a concern that it's --

[07:55:00] HARLOW: But that's the concern is --

ROMANS: -- not real policy.

HARLOW: Right, and is there a level of -- are we, you know, approaching a form of crony capitalism where say companies say, all right, I'm going to bring these jobs back home or I'm not going to make them in Mexico. But in return, I expect you to give me favorable EPA regulations on fuel economy or I expect favorable regulations --

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: -- from the FCC on a big mobile merger deal. Look, Ford says that is not what happened. CAMEROTA: But aren't those called deals? I mean, aren't these -- can't you also just call these deals?

ROMANS: He's playing to the American worker, too, right? He wants them to see that he gets it done.

HARLOW: But Alisyn makes a good point. Can't you just call these deals? You can, but is that the way that American democracy should work? I don't know. This is an entirely new game, right? We've never seen this before. Should American presidents call out individual companies? Those workers yesterday in Michigan were pretty darn happy.

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean -- and look, you hear -- you hear conservatives who have always said -- they certainly said this when President Obama was giving any sorts of grants or stimulus money to green technology --

HARLOW: Like Solyndra.

CAMEROTA: Solyndra.

ROMANS: The game of winners.

CAMEROTA: Capitalism doesn't pick winners and losers.

ROMANS: He's picking the winner.

CAMEROTA: Is this different, what Donald Trump is doing?

HARLOW: That's a great point.

ROMANS: He is -- the optics of it, though, for him are he's picking the winners and the winners will be the American worker. And he is going to twist arms and make these companies understand that coming down the road are going to be changes. When you're talking about a border tax, Republicans in the House Ways and Means Committee have been talking about this border tax which could, I think, in the near term raise prices for consumers, but really does disincentivize the very things that NAFTA allows, which is making something someplace else and bringing it here.

HARLOW: So, Christine, for example, is it a win for American workers, yes. These 700 jobs are fantastic. Everyone is thrilled for these people and hopefully there will be more. Hopefully, this is the first of many to come. However, will it mean higher prices for American consumers, something I asked the Ford CEO, and he did not directly answer because they don't know what the environment's going to be. Is it going to mean if they're made here they're going to cost more?

CAMEROTA: Right. It wouldn't be so great for, obviously, working families. OK, let's move on to one more thing that is really interesting, a development here in New York.


CAMEROTA: Bernie Sanders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced yesterday free tuition --


CAMEROTA: -- for people who go to state colleges in New York.

ROMANS: And community colleges, right?

CAMEROTA: There's no free lunch. How does this work?

ROMANS: Well, taxpayers are going to have to pay for it. It's like $163 million a year and that's something the Republicans in the Assembly pointed out very quickly. They said that Gov. Cuomo's trying to have taxpayers pay for his political ambitions. That was their cynical read on it. But Bernie Sanders started this. It got a lot of traction on this idea that you should not have to be so indebted when you get out. You need to have skills and a college education. This would be four-year and two-year universities. And, you know --

HARLOW: For families making $125,000 or less.

ROMANS: Or less, right. And the governor said that look, you shouldn't be starting a race with an anchor tied around your ankle and that's essentially what --

CAMEROTA: People really responded during the presidential race.

HARLOW: They did, and Christine has covered this in-depth. I mean, you've got a student loan market that's over $1 trillion right now. A lot of people think this is the next bubble to burst, you know. You have to do something about it. People cannot be taking out these massive loans and be indebted and not get jobs where they can pay them back.

ROMANS: Social Security checks being garnished by the government to pay for unpaid student loans because also, parents are taking out loans on behalf of their kids and then nobody can pay it back.


CAMEROTA: Yes, so we'll see what happens with this plan. Christine, Poppy -- red, white and blue -- thank you very much --

ROMANS: There you go.

HARLOW: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: -- ladies. We're following a lot of news this morning so let's get right to it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Donald Trump is playing with the intelligence community.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT-ELECT: I also know things that other people don't know. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no intelligence community that has the capabilities as the U.S. intelligence community.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: You take on the intelligence community, they have ways of getting back at you.

GOV. MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT: We'll focus on repealing and replacing Obamacare.

CUOMO: President Obama and Vice President-elect Mike Pence heading to Capitol Hill today.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: There are some pieces of merit in the current plan.

PELOSI: Democrats will stand our ground.

KAYLL SHOFF, MOTHER OF TWINS WHO WERE STRUCK BY TOPPLED DRESSER: We didn't hear a cry, we didn't hear a big thud.

CAMEROTA: A two-year-old hero saves his pinned twin brother.

SHOFF: Bowdy just came around and he just pushed with all of his might and pushed it right off of his brother.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: I can't wait to speak to that family of the twins. They're in the green room.

CUOMO: I was just back there with the boys.

CAMEROTA: I know. They're --

CUOMO: They have a third brother, by the way.

CAMEROTA: I saw him, and they're wreaking havoc in the green room as we speak.

CUOMO: They look good. Fresh haircuts.

CAMEROTA: OK. Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. Up first, President-elect Donald Trump intensifying the tension with U.S. intelligence officials. Mr. Trump tweeting that the timing of his long-awaited briefing on Russian hacks has changed.

CUOMO: So, he is now suggesting -- remember, without evidence -- that the intelligence agencies need more time to build the case. He even actually just tweeted, quoting Julian Assange, saying that the Russians were not his source for leaked DNC emails. Remember, Assange always stands fast in the fact that he won't tell his sources and now he's saying what his source is not. Very odd. So, the question about the president-elect is what is motivating his resistance? Just 16 days from Inauguration Day. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Jason Carroll live at the White House annex, Trump Tower in New York.


(Byline: Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota, Philip Mudd, Michael Weiss, Poppy Harlow, Christine Romans, Jason Carroll)

(Guest: Jim Himes)

(High: Interview with Rep. Jim Himes on saving Obamacare from Republicans. U.S. intelligence chiefs scheduled to brief Trump later this week. Why is Trump antagonizing U.S. intelligence agencies? Donald Trump sides with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about Russian hacking. Ford CEO Mark Fields says they did not cut a deal with Trump.)

(Spec: Politics; Donald Trump; Obamacare; Congress; Health & Medicine; Insurance; Legislation; Jim Himes; Russia; Hacking; DNC; Emails; House; Ethics; Julian Assange; Security; WikiLeaks: Ford; Mark Fields; General Motors; Andrew Cuomo; Business; Education; Automotive Industry; Bernie Sanders; Free; College)